Public defender (Brazil)

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A public defender in Salvador.

Public defender offices in Brazil had its origin in the State of Rio de Janeiro, where on May 5, 1897, a decree established free legal assistance in the Federal District (then the city of Rio de Janeiro).

With its constitutional mission of ensuring the constitutional principles of access to justice and equality between the persons, and the right to enforce rights and fundamental freedoms (the right to have rights), Brazil stands out nationally and internationally as one of the most important public institutions, primarily committed to democracy, equality and building a more just and caring society.[1]

Public defender offices are the state agency that provides full and free legal assistance to people who do not have the funds to pay the costs of these services, according to the Federal Constitution of Brazil. This is because the full and free legal assistance to the poor is a right and a fundamental guarantee of citizenship, inserted in the art. 5 of the Constitution of the Republic, LXXIV item. Also, the Constitution requires the Union to the States of Brazil and the Brazilian Federal District to provide those rights directly through the public defenders Office. The Constitution that the public defender office is installed across the country, similar to the supplemental law in paragraph one of art.134 (LC 80/94). Gratuity of justice covers legal fees, expert testimony and court costs, as well as extrajudicial ones.


According to the 2009 Brazilian Public Defender Census:


  • Federal public defenders were 65.4% male and 34.6% female.
  • State public defenders were 50.1% male and 49.6% female.

Sexual orientation[edit]




The public defenders are people trained in law of Brazil and who join the public defenders' office with at least two years of experience and by passing rigorous tests. In defending the interests of the public, public defenders have assisted performance in the first and second degrees of jurisdiction, with title and specific responsibilities in the matter being discussed.

The defender is independent in its object, litigating on behalf of the interests of those assisted in all instances, regardless of who occupies the opposite pole of the procedural relationship.


The areas of performance of public defender in Brazil are:[3]

See also[edit]